A model school for Malawi
Many contemporary buildings in tropical countries still mimic architectural styles and building methods from North America or Europe, without any adaptation to local climate whatsoever. A notable exception is the Academy for Girls in Lilongwe/Malawi, which was planned by New-York based Studio MDA and is expected to be finished by 2012.
The organization “Raising Malawi” was founded by Pop singer Madonna and Michael Berg in 2006 and is dedicated to bringing an end to the extreme poverty and hardships endured by Malawi’s one million orphans. The Academy for Girls, currently under construction, is by far the most ambitious project Raising Malawi has undertaken. The program of the institution includes a Library and Administration building, Dining Hall, Gymnasium, Wellness Center, Sports Field, 30 Classrooms, 12 Dormitories and 18 Staff Houses on a 46 hectare site.
Most construction materials are sourced locally, such as Hydraform bricks, made from soil on site, avoiding the use of burned bricks which have been largely responsible for wide spread deforestation in Malawi.
Double roofs catch the breeze and induce natural ventilation. Large over hangs on the roofs create ample outdoor shaded space and prevent direct light from striking the glazing and heating up the interior of the building. Computer light level simulations defined the geometry of the classroom roofs and clerestory windows, creating optimal light levels and diffusion.
Photovoltaic panels on the roof of many of the buildings will help the school to be energy independent. Two constructed wetlands will clean all the black and grey water generated by the school allowing it to be used for landscape irrigation and educational agricultural plots. Rainwater catchment systems will catch and store water for small student gardens and other learning landscapes through out the campus. The learning landscapes, and educational agriculture areas will help to educate the student on the range on ecosystems in Malawi and help to develop the future of sustainable agriculture in the region.
The result will be a comprehensive educational campus that will create a safe and nurturing environment.
Studio MDA has closely collaborated with Adams Kara Taylor of London, dLand Studio of New York, Transsolar Climate Engineers of Stuttgart and New York, John Todd Ecological Design of Woods Hole, ARUP Consulting Engineers in New York, Alcatel Lucent New York and ePod Solar of British Columbia to develop the design of the project. StudioMDA has also worked closely with local architect Ismail Patel of IMDesign and the local Malawi design team including RD Consultants, M&E Associates, ULC Landscapes and SFS Property Consultants.